Thursday, October 21, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Barack Obama attempts to stomp out the flames of freedom, Lt Dan Choi states Obama has "lost my trust," Nouri concludes his tour, the political stalemate continues, a woman whose husband died in Iraq last month shares why she feels the army is culpable in her husband's death, and more.
Starting in the US where DNAinfo quotes Dan Choi stating, "I have a message for Valerie Jarrett and all those politicians in the White House: You've lost my trust. You have lost my trust and I am not gonna vote for Barack Obama after what he did yesterday." What did he do yesterday? Showed yet another side of hypocrisy.
Lily is dancing
on the table
we've all been
I guess on days
you know who your
-- "Taxi Ride," written by Tori Amos, first appears on Scarlet's Walk
A federal appeals court ruled to temporarily suspend a judge's ban overturning the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibits openly gay and lesbian individuals from serving in the military. The U.S. Justice Department filed an emergency motion with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the decision, arguing the injunction on the policy has caused "confusion and uncertainty" in the Pentagon and the military, according to the appeals filing. The three-judge panel approved the short-term motion to stay while they study the issue and consider suspending the injunction for a longer period. In an analysis, Devin Dwyer (ABC News -- link has text and video) offers an analysis:
The administration's handling of the case has angered critics on both sides of the issue. Gay rights advocates, infuriated by what they see as hypocrisy, and some legal scholars, insist the "duty to defend" has already been fulfilled and that there is ample precedent for the administration to let Judge Phillips' decision stand. Meanwhile, supporters of the law say the administration's invocation of their "duty" is a smokescreen for a halfhearted defense. "It happens every once in awhile at the federal level when the solicitor general, on behalf of the U.S., will confess error or decline to defend a law," said former George W. Bush administration solicitor general Ted Olson, who is leading the legal challenge of California's ban on same-sex marriage. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state attorney general have both declined to defend the law in court. "I don't know what is going through the [Obama] administration's thought process on 'don't ask, don't tell,'" Olson said. "It would be appropriate for them to say 'the law has been deemed unconstitutional, we are not going to seek further review of that.'"
Speaking on CNN today (link has video), Dan declared, "I just heard Valerie Jarrett talk to you guys and I am so absolutely upset at the things she could be saying at this moment. Yesterday, when President Obama -- after Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been dead for a week, no enormous consequences, nobody quitting the military because of honest soldiers. And all the sudden you see give mouth to mouth resuscitation to discrimination and injustice. Valerie Jarrett said that gay people, some of us should try to understand the politics in the situation that we are a nation of laws.' Well we understand that. We don't need a lecture from Valerie Jarrett on that. Civics. Day one. American government. Checks and balances. When Congress enacts a law that's unconstitutional, whose job is it to strike it down? The court. I understand that the judicial branch is the only branch of the government that is filling its mandate to the Constitution. And that the president is not able to do that? I am resentful. Absolutely."
Insulring is the use of noted homophobe Rachel Martin by NPR to cover this topic. On Morning Edition today, Martin insisted that Judge Phillips caused "a little bit of uncertainty and chaos" with her decision. Rachel Martin then went on to declare the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy had to remain in effect because the White House didn't know what to do. As only a HOMOPHOBIC LIAR can do, Rachel spun that: "They're going to have to overahaul sexual harassment rules." No, they're not. Sexual harassment is sexual harassment and the rules -- excuse me, THE LAW -- covers it in terms of same-sex sexual harassment and in terms of opposite-sex sexual harassment.
Rachel's a liar, she'll always be liar. While the liar is still among us, let's apply to logic to her lies. According to Rachel, there are all these things the government has to do, just has to do. Including "sensitivity training for troops." Was there sensisitivy training required when Eisenhow racially integrated the military? No. You give an order, that's the end of the story.
But Rachel wanted to lie because -- well that's all she's ever done.
Okay there is one week left in this month. We then have November and December.
When exactly is Barack planning on ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The Pentagon's laughable study is supposed to be done at the start of December. That's supposed to mean the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (the end to those who keep half-an-eye on the story). So what's the difference. Why is Judge Phillip's decision being appealed. Forget the injunction for a moment. (The decision was that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was unconstitutional. The injunction was added by Judge Phillips after and it prevented any discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell while the executive branch did any appeals.) Why are they wasting, WASTING, tax payer money on this bulls**t?
Five weeks? Five weeks until -- according to the popular narrative -- Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed and Barack is wasting the Justice Dept's hours and our tax dollars on this nonsense? How is that cost effective and how does it demonstrate that he knows the first thing about running a government? It doesn't.
That's the decision. Now let's move to the injunction.
The injunction did no harm. All the injunction did was prevent people from being discharged for being gay. The Penatgon added the policy that recruiters couldn't discriminate. Neither of those were causing any harm -- especially when, Barack wants us to believe -- he's planning on ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell in December.
People need to be asking what's going on because it appears Barack's primary rally cry of "We're going to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell!" Is a great deal like his cry of, "We want to end the war!" Apparently, footnotes are required for all of Barack's speeches.
Chris Johnson (Washington Blade) reports that US House Rep Barney Frank states Barack shouldn't have allowed Phillip's decision -- not just the injunction, the entire decision -- to be appealed: "First, President Obama made a mistake in appealing the decision of Judge Phillips, ruling it unconstitutional. While presidents do have the obligation to defend even laws they dislike, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' has already been repudiated as bad policy by the President himself, by a decisive majority of the House and by a Senate majority just short of the votes necessary to break filibuster." Writing for the Palm Beach Post editorial board, Rhonda Swan also feels the decision should not have been appealed and argues, "It defies logic that an administration opposed to this bigotry would fight to maintain it. President Obama has said the policy 'weakens our national security.' The Justice Department said it has a duty to defend the laws enacted by Congress. The department did so, and lost. The right thing would have been to accept defeat. In this case, defeat would have been a win for the country." GetEQUAL issued the following:
Today, Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL -- a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization -- issued the following statement in response to the ruling by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issuing a temporary stay against an earlier injunction in Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States of America. The stay was sought by the Department of Justice against a ruling last week that ordered the U.S. military to immediately stop enforcement of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law:
"This temporary stay, sought by President Obama's Department of Justice, brings the military's discriminatory 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law back from the dead. It is a travesty that after numerous attempts, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder will go down in history as the Administration that breathed life back into 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' The lives and careers of openly gay and lesbian servicemembers are now back in the crosshairs of our government and a renewed commitment to discrimination falls squarely in the hands of this White House."
Actually, I tend to agree with what Secretary [Robert] Gates said on the issue. And that is that you need to engage the force to find out their opinion about this because, after all, this is an all-volunteer force. If in fact they are alienated by a decision like this to repeal, then they could walk. And who are you going to backfill?
We'll stop him there. He is right on one thing: Gates' position. Maginnis summarized Gates' position correctly.
Today Nouri al-Maliki continued (and concluded) his never-ending campaign tour. John Leland (New York Times) observes, "On Wednesday, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki took his shuttle campaign to Egypt, a predominantly Sunni state that has had warmer relations with Mr. Maliki's main political rival, Ayad Allawi. Mr. Allawi's multisectarian bloc, which includes most of Iraq's Sunnis, won the most seats in the national elections in March, ahead of Mr. Maliki's bloc, which is overwhelmingly Shiite." Al Arabiya reports, "Al-Maliki, who is Shiite, is trying to remain in power in Iraq in face of strong opposition from a rival Sunni-backed bloc, which Egypt and other Sunni Arab states have supported."
Liu Wanli (Xinhua) opines, "By boosting business links with Arab nations, the incumbent prime minister run ahead of other candidates in the race to form Iraq's new government, analysts said." Wanli offers examples:
During his visit to Egypt, Al-Maliki said he had invited Egyptian companies to do housing, hospital, oil and electricity projects in Iraq.
He also proposed a joint Iraqi-Egyptian free trade zone and new pipeline that would allow Iraqi gas exports through Egypt, pledging to cut the red tape for Egyptian firms doing business in his country.
In Jordan, King Abdullah and Maliki stressed the need for practical steps to boost ties between Jordan and Iraq in all fields and highlighted the importance of establishing frameworks to enhance cooperation, particularly in the economic and commercial fields, a Royal Court statement said.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and fourteen days and counting.
Meanwhile, as Nouri concluded his tour today, he also 'graced' Turkey with his presence in a visit so brief even Nouri felt compelled to comment, "This is a short but very important visit." Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) quotes Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoon Damluji stating, "We have concerns about any agreements and promises he has given. Any agreements made after March are not legitimate because there is no parliamentary monitoring." Nor is there any prime minister. Nouri's term expired some time ago. That is why there were calls for the creation of a caretaker government. Ayad Allawi was among those making that call. For the US White House, that was not going to happen due to the fact that they doubted they would get the agreement to extend the military presence in Iraq past 2011 were someone other than Nouri put in charge (most calls for a caretaker government -- including from Allawi -- asked that the United Nations create the caretaker government).
In August, the US government's refusal to support the creation of a caretake government in Iraq was embarrassing. As the political stalemate has now reached the middle of October, it's only more embarrassing. Though Nouri stated this week that 'soon' he would create a new government that ignores the fact that (a) he's made that announcement repeatedly throughout the stalemate and (b) he may not end up prime minister. Yes, yes, the day after the election, Quil Lawrence was calling Nouri the winner and next prime minister. But NPR broadcasting that lie didn't make it any less of a lie. Throughout the stalemate, War Hawk Samantha Power has vouched for Nouri, insisting he was the US' best option. She didn't miss it but she did ignore history. Repeatedly Nouri has been the willful puppet doing just what he wanted to do. That's why he signed on the White House benchmarks after the 2006 mid-terms but never bothered to live up to them. Those benchmarks? They were to measure progress. And the US Congress, if progress was not found, was supposed to cut off all funds. The White House didn't hold him to it and the Congress -- as a body -- didn't hold him to it. (US House Rep Lloyd Doggett was among those, in 2008, publicly calling out Nouri's refusal to meet the benchmarks he had agreed to.) These benchmarks were not supposed to extend for four years or more. They were supposed to be met in a year to eighteen months time. All this time later, Nouri still can't check off a single benchmark. Like all the other War Hawks before her, Samantha Power got played.
And Nouri, of course, never did a damn thing to help Iraqi refugees. He never kept his promise to pay neighboring governments. He didn't do anything about the violence within Iraq. He never did a damn thing to help but he did do a few things to hurt -- such as offering certain countries deals if they'd evict refugees. Dropping back to Tuesday's snapshot:
Staying with the United Nation, in Geneva today, UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming addressed the issue of Iraqi returnees, "A poll of Iraqis who have returned to Baghdad from neighbouring countries found that physical insecurity, economic hardship and a lack of basic public services has led the majority to regret their decision to return to Iraq. The survey also found that 34 percent said they were uncertain whether they would stay permanently in Iraq and would consider seeking asylum in neighbouring countries once again if conditions do not improve." Fleming noted that the bulk of the returnees were unable to live in their own homes (presumably they were occupied by squatter and those who ran them off to begin with) and the bulk of those who returned did so due to economic conditions (the savings they'd been living on were gone). The University of Chicago's Will Taylor reports for Global Post on Iraqi refugees Mohammad and Marwa and their daughter Noor who have arrived in the US after fleeing Iraq for Syria. Mohammad is a journalist who covered politics and government in Iraq until "local hostilities and militia" forced them to leave the country. Mohammad explains, "I wrote about a high officer in Iraq. He is official officer and besides that he has a militia." As a result, the Mahdi militia visited Mohammad's home and "kidnapped Mohammed and his mother." Though they eventually released him, the whereabouts and status of his mother remain unknown.
Despite that and despite the UN repeatedly stressing that it is not safe for returns, Dutch News reports the Dutch government announced they will continue to forcibly deport Iraqi refugees. It's hard to figure out which is worse: the Dutch government's actions (and other European nations) or the fact that worldwide condemnation has not been heaped on them for these forcible returns. On the issue of refugees, Chibli Mallat (Daily Star) reports:
I received last week a news documentary made by an Australian television network from Dr. Isam Khafaji. Khafaji is an old Iraqi friend who fought against Saddam Hussein's regime because of its appalling human-rights record, and keeps the fight on for the continuing miseries affecting Iraq. The documentary focuses on the Iraqi women who have found refuge in Syria and who became part of a prostitution ring set up with the usual villains: families who don't care and who eke out pennies for survival by selling their women folk's bodies, mafia-like rings of proxenetism, and governmental graft at various levels. The story is repeated, with variations, in Lebanon, Iran, Jordan, inside Iraq, and to some extent, Iran. It is an ugly story. In a sea of violence, only sporadic attention has been devoted to that ongoing tragedy, which was particularly highlighted by courageous investigators in UNHCR. Only through working on a report for ESCWA on violence against women and available international legal instruments to combat it, did I know about this significant ring of misery affecting young Iraqi women in the countries of refuge. Little is done in practice to remedy an intolerable situation. The exception is a new venture which has mobilized around Rebecca Heller and her colleagues at Yale law school as described in this page. IRAP's main focus has been US responsibility toward Iraqi refugees, in particular the weaker link constituted by girls and women living in sexual slavery in host countries. Taking up individual cases, IRAP is trying to secure the attention, sympathy and network of US immigration and related authorities to provide relief.
When women have access to the same rights and opportunities as men, they are more resilient to conflict and disaster and can lead reconstruction and renewal efforts in their societies, according to the State of World Population 2010, published today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.
The report's release coincides with the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council's landmark resolution 1325, which aimed to put a stop to sexual violence against women and girls in armed conflict and to encourage greater participation by women in peacebuilding initiatives.
"When women and girls suffer deep discrimination, they are more vulnerable to the worst effects of disaster or war, including rape, and less likely to contribute to peacebuilding, which threatens long-term recovery," said UNFPA's Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid at the launch of the report.
Through the stories of individuals affected by conflict or catastrophe in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Liberia, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Timor-Leste and Uganda, the report shows how communities and civil society are healing old wounds and moving forward. However, more still needs to be done to ensure that women have access to services and have a voice in peace deals or reconstruction plans.
The report is entitled "State Of The World Population 2010 Resources: From Conflict and crisis to Renewal: Generations of Change" and has a broad vista and multiple sections. We'll note the following on Iraq:
Over the last decade or two, the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has out of necessity blurred a once-clear line between the internally displaced and refugees who flee from country to country. Both populations have similar needs and similar fears when conflict forces them into flight. Iraq is a case in point. According to the UNHCR and government estimates, in mid-2010, there were 4.8 million Iraqis "of concern," a description that means they felt that they could no longer live safely at home. Of these, more than 2.6 million were displaced within Iraq and 1.9 million had crossed borders into another country. Conversations with Iraqi families who have sought refuge in Jordan reveal that many of them have experienced both: first moving from place to place in Iraq in search of safety and then finally, and in desperation, fleeing the country entirely, sometimes with death threats hanging over them. After national elections in Iraq in 2010, a new fear has complicated the lives of Iraqi refugees who say they are concerned that with the Iraqi political climate declared to be "normal" and sectarian violence reduced (though not ended) they will be sent back by host countries in Europe and some parts of the Middle East.
Iraq, with about 29 million people, is a youthful country. The median age of its people is just over 20, with more than a third of the population falling into the 0-14 age group, and about a fifth in the 15-24 age group. So among the frightened people are solemn, wide-eyed children who barely grasp what has become of their lives. Their parents, fathers and mothers suffer anguish.
Mazin Mohammed Riadh, who says it took him six months to overcome the fear of being followed, is a 37-year-old engineer from Baghdad. He recalls how his wife and children lived in terror when the family arrived in Jordan from Iraq in the summer of 2007. Several relatives of his wife, Hirraa Abass Fadhil, who is 26, had been killed by members of a Shiite militia because of their Sunni names; one uncle targeted for death was an imam. "My son was frightened when he saw a policeman because of his experience back home, because of the sectarian nature of the police," Riadh said. He takes the little boy into the street to shake hands and talk with Jordanian police officers to learn that they will not harm him. Riadh said that he and his wife had problems of their own to overcome before they were able to focus on their children. "We needed to settle down mentally. We needed to feel secure first. When we came to terms with things around here, then I started to teach my children to live normally."
The couple's two young sons, Abdullah, born in 2003, and Abdurrahman, born two years later, are now adjusting reasonably well, their parents said. The problem is Adam, the 15-year-old brother of Hirraa, one of her three siblings living with them in Jordan. Their mother died in 2000 giving birth to the youngest of the three, a sister named Nawal. Their father died a year later of heart disease. Another sister, Havaa, is 19, unsettled and unsure about her future because university education in Jordan, much of it private, is beyond the family's financial means. Riadh said that he had promised his wife that he would always look after her sisters and brother and keep them all together as a family. That pledge has led to an unexpected setback in their lives as refugees, said Riadh, a softspoken man obviously shaken and distressed by dissension in the family over their next move.
Riadh, who has engineering skills, had been offered resettlement in the United States. Adam refused to go, and his family won't leave without him. The situation they face -- their future in the hands of a disturbed 15 year old -- illustrates well, but sadly, the complications of refugee life that go on even after a return to some sense of security. Adam has never recovered from the killing of his brother, Omar, gunned down at the age of 18 in Baghdad when he entered a Shia neighborhood where someone recognized him as a resident of a Sunni section of the city known to harbor Al Qaeda terrorists. In Iraq by 2007, Hirraa said, "Corpses filled the street, both Shia and Sunni." In Amman, the Jordanian capital, the UNHCR office had prepared for a flood of Iraqi refugees in 2003, after the American-led invasion of Iraq. But they did not come then. It was not until 2006 and after, when sectarian killings began to explode, that many Iraqis were finally forced to flee. That was the setting from which Riadh escaped.
"For Adam, things are terrible," Riadh said, through an interpreter. "Omar was his idol, his friend, his brother. After he died, Adam used to dream about him every night. He would go out in the streets hoping to find him alive to bring him back. Omar's death has affected the whole family, but it has affected Adam most. He was in a horrible mental state when we arrived in Jordan. He didn't want to see anybody. He did not want to go to school. We took him for counselling. He went once or twice and then he said, 'Am I crazy that you are taking me there?' He did not want anybody to see him there. We are forcing him to go to school. The first year he came here he got into a fight; it was a fight between two schoolboys because he was an Iraqi."
Reuters notes that a Samarra roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Sahwa and a Baghdad roadside bombing left three people wounded.
September 24th, US Spc John Carrillo Jr. and Pfc Gebrah P. Noonan were shot dead while serving in Iraq. A third US soldier was injured in the shooting and he or she has not been identified at present. US Spc Neftaly Platero's name has been floated in the press as the shooter. Yesterday, USF issued the following:
BAGHDAD – A U.S. service member, Spc. Neftaly Platero, is in pre-trial confinement, in connection with the shooting and killing of two service members and injury of another here Thursday. The incident remains under investigation. "Our condolences go out to the families of those service members whose lives were lost. We are saddened by this tragic incident," said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan. Lindsay Wise (Houston Chronicle) notes Platero was on his second tour of Iraq. Joe Goldeen (Stockton Record) reports:
Carrillo's mother, Desiree Carrillo, and his wife, Reylene Carrillo, both of Stockton, were made aware Tuesday that charges were pending, and they issued a short joint statement Wednesday: "We just want justice for our son and husband," they said. Goldeen has been covering this story from early on. Which may be why he knows the date of the shooting but a national outlet apparently telegraphs how little they care about Iraq by not even getting the date incident correct.
Carrillo's family has already expressed their dismay that the US military, when informing them of the death of John Carrillo Junior, was not frank about the circumstances of his death.
32-year-old Sgt John F. Burner III died serving Iraq September 16th. He was on his third tour of duty. He apparently died of a heart attack. Immediately prior to his death, he had difficulty breathing and walking and sought help. He was not given the help he needed and his family has expressed their feelings that the military did not protect their loved one. Along with his parents, his loved one include his wife Verena and their two daughters. At CNN, Verena Burner explains that she spoke with her hsuband via Skype on September 15th and that "he looked pale and appeared cold," that he was sick, that his request to see a doctor was at first refused and then when he was allowed to see one the doctor told him that he (the doctor) couldn't perform any tests at that time. Verena Burner writes:
John's symptoms were coughing, difficulty breathing, tingling in hands and feet to the point where he couldn't even walk. John also told me that while on quarters he did not eat much, he was not checked on the way he should have been. Some days he only received one meal. John was uploading pictures to e-mail to me, said he would be right back. After waiting for a while, and he did not return, I started to get worried and made some phone calls. One hour later he was found outside of his living quarters. He was still alive when taken to the hospital, but had a respitory attack soon after and passed away.
I feel that his leadership and the medical system failed my husband. He started complaining about his symptoms about a week before he passed away. I can't help but think that they should have and could have done more for him.
My heart aches for my two daughters Celina (10) and Caitlyn (7).
My husband John was a great soldier, even better husband and father and deserved so much more!
I think this story needs to be heard, so changes can be made and no other family will have to go through something like that. A soldier should never be denied treatment! Like I said in some other articles, I am sure he wasn't the first and he won't be the last if no one speaks out about how out soldiers are treated.